Should you “Inaugurate” a New Financial Plan on January 20th?

new financial plan

Time for a New Financial Plan?

The market’s wild ride after the presidential election might have you wondering if a change in leadership should mean a change in your financial strategy.

While no one can ever predict with certainty what will happen to the market – or even on Twitter these days – there are two important points to remember.

It Matters Less than We Think

The first is that there has been a long-term upward movement in the market through many changes of administration.

Ironically, who’s in the White House makes less difference than we think it will in terms of overall market performance: markets are driven by market conditions more than by the policies individual Presidents advocate. As Barry Ritholz noted in an excellent piece in the Washington Post last week, during President Grover Cleveland’s first term stocks rose 53 percent while in his second term they fell 2 percent. That wasn’t because President Cleveland forgot how to make stocks go up – it was overall market drivers that made a difference. So for medium and long-term goals – like saving for retirement or your children’s education – taking the long view with your investments is critical.

How Much Risk is Too Much?

The second point is that everyone has a different level of risk tolerance.

That is why it’s critical that you have access to a sophisticated risk tolerance tool that really drills down to who you are, instead of only generic questions about age, income and whether or not you call yourself “aggressive” or “cautious.”

If you’re risk adverse and you’re anxious about a crash or a downward trend that may affect your short term plans, you can always use January to re-balance your portfolio and lock in profits. As a wise investor once said: “no one ever lost money taking a profit.” If your risk tolerance is higher, you can view the volatility as an opportunity to maximize the possible potential for your investments. By continuing to contribute regularly to a savings or investment plan, you take advantage of the power of dollar-cost averaging and compounded interest to make your money work for you. If you had sold in the sharp downturn last January, for instance, instead of sticking to your plan, you would have lost out on the dramatic returns afterwards.

Of course every January is a good time to meet with your advisor to rebalance your portfolio based on your own changing circumstances, tax needs, and risk tolerance. But, fundamentally, your plan is still your plan, no matter who wins the presidential election. Your goals are still your goals and compound interest still compounds. If you have worked with a good – fiduciary, fee only – financial advisor to create a workable plan based on your life goals and your circumstances, then staying the course – with minor adjustments – is very often the smartest plan. Data overwhelmingly shows that it’s “slow and steady” investing – not playing a guessing game by jumping in and out of investments – that ultimately wins the race.

Other Sources:
What is a Financial Plan?
The Importance of Personal Finance Knowledge
Financial Planning for Millennials: Overcoming the Fear Factor


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The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
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Discussing Personal Finance is Difficult for Many – but Critical


Money can be a difficult subject for any of us to talk about, although it seems to be particularly challenging, statistically, for women.

According to a recent study released by Fidelity, 80% of women surveyed said that they had refrained from discussing financial issues with friends or family, despite the fact that over 92% of those surveyed expressed an interest in learning more about financial planning. Among those surveyed, some of the most common reasons given were that money was too personal a topic, it felt uncomfortable to talk about, or it was considered “taboo.” Additionally, women are also more likely to feel that they don’t know enough about the subject to speak about it intelligently. This is despite the fact that studies have shown that women tend to be better investors than men.

Money is, however, a critical subject that we all need to discuss – and discuss often – in relationships. A little while ago I wrote about the 7 Things Married Couples Should Discuss Today, where I talked about why it is critical that married couples go over their finances together. Marriage is not, however, the only relationship that requires having difficult conversations about money.

We need to communicate with our parents and children about money, and even friends, coworkers and extended family members in some cases.

With money playing such an important role in our daily lives, it’s critical that we learn to overcome our desire to avoid the topic and learn how to effectively and confidently communicate about financial matters.

Fortunately there are a few things you can do to make the topic of money easier to discuss:

1. Realize that difficult conversations are sometimes necessary

Whether you need to confront your parents about their retirement plans, your spouse about where to allocate investments, or your children about their spending habits money can be a difficult topic to talk about. By reminding yourself that these are conversations that you will ultimately need to have however you are setting yourself up for success.

2. Find someone knowledgeable about finances who you can trust

No one has all the answers when it comes to money, which is why it is often helpful to turn to others for ideas and suggestions. You should find someone – whether it’s a friend, family member or a financial advisor – who is knowledgeable, who you know has your best interests at heart, and with whom you feel comfortable speaking.

This will give you the opportunity to ask questions, bounce around ideas, and learn and grow. It will also give you the confidence to discuss finances with others.

3. Get educated

One of the best ways to feel comfortable discussing money with others is by learning as much about the subject as you can. Read books, ask questions, and get help when needed. By learning as much as you can, you feel more comfortable giving advice, making financial decisions and having what would otherwise be difficult conversations.

4. Don’t procrastinate when discussing finances

If there is a money-related conversation that you have been putting off, bring it up now or at the next time possible. Don’t wait!

Here are a few more suggestions for important conversation starters:

With your spouse:

  • Family’s budget
  • Retirement savings
  • Saving for children’s college fund
  • Where to invest money

With your children:

  • Allowance
  • Spending
  • Basic financial principles

With your parents:

  • Their retirement plans
  • Location of legal documents including wills, trusts and insurance paperwork

If you’re like most people, chances are there are many other subjects that you need to discuss with those you’re close to. It may be a good idea to contact a financial advisor to help you with these as well as other issues revolving around money.

Brad Sherman is a financial planner in Gaithersburg, Maryland who is committed to helping individuals and families achieve financial independence and gain confidence with regard to financial issues.

Call him today to see if his services are a good fit for your needs.